Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather to stand down from Parliament in 2015

The former Children's Minister has told the <em>Observer</em> that she feels Nick Clegg's party no longer campaigns sufficiently for social justice and liberal values on immigration.

Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather has announced, via an interview with Toby Helm of the Observer, that she will not be seeking re-election to Parliament in 2015.

She cited disappointment with her party's stance on immigration and social issues since joining the Coalition among the reasons for her decision, as well as the impact on her own life and wellbeing. In a statement on her website, she said that her differences with the party "have been getting larger rather than smaller".

She told the paper:

I don't want to say it is impossible for other people to do it, but for me, with my resources, with who I am, with my constituency, I personally can't see how I can make this sustainable for the next 10 years and behave like a normal human being that I like.

Teather was elected as the MP at the Brent East by-election in 2003, overturning a 13,000 strong Labour majority to take the seat for the Lib Dems in what was considered to be a backlash against the Labour government's support for the Iraq war.

She was appointed Children's Minister on the formation of the Coalition, but was sacked during a reshuffle in September 2012. She subsequently spoke out against the government's benefit cap.

The timing of Teather's announcement - in the run-up to the Lib Dems' conference in Glasgow - and her decision to make it in an interview with a national broadsheet looks calculated to cause the maximum possible discomfort for Nick Clegg. She attracted a lot of criticism for voting against the second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act earlier this year, and some commentators have suggested that this has attributed to her decision not to seek re-election.

A spokesperson for the Lib Dems told the Observer:

Of course we are disappointed by Sarah's decision.

The Liberal Democrats have a proud record in government, including cutting taxes for working people by £700 and lifting the poorest paid out of tax altogether; helping businesses create a million jobs; investing billions more in schools to help the poorest children and introducing radical plans for shared parental leave.

Sarah was a part of this when she served as a minister in the coalition, as well as playing a key role in ending Labour's disgraceful policy of locking up children for immigration purposes.

Sarah Teather at the Lib Dem party conference in 2011. Photo: Getty

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

Photo: Getty
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RMT poised to rejoin the Labour Party

The transport union is set to vote on reaffiliation to the party, with RMT leaders backing the move.

Plans are being drawn up for the RMT (the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) to reaffiliate to the Labour Party in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s significant gains in the general election, the New Statesman has learnt.

The union, which represents tube drivers and other workers across the transport sector, was expelled from the Labour Party under Tony Blair after some Scottish branches voted to support the Scottish Socialist Party instead.

But the RMT endorsed both of Corbyn’s bids for the Labour leadership and its ruling national executive committee backed a Labour vote on 8 June.

Corbyn addressed the RMT’s annual general meeting in Exeter yesterday, where he was “given a hero’s welcome”, in the words of one delegate. Mick Cash, the RMT’s general secretary, praised Corbyn as the union’s “long-term friend and comrade”.

After the meeting, Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary at the RMT, posted a picture to Facebook with John McDonnell. The caption read: “With the shadow chancellor John McDonnell arguing that we should affiliate to the Labour Party after consulting fully and democratically with our members”.

The return of the RMT to Labour would be welcomed by the party leadership with open arms. And although its comparably small size would mean that the RMT would have little effect on the internal workings of Labour Party conference or its ruling NEC, its wide spread across the country could make the union a power player in the life of local Labour parties.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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